New Zealand’s citizens will be participating in a historic vote to legalize cannabis this weekend. It’s is the first country to put the legalization of recreational cannabis use to popular vote.
New Zealand’s reform would allow its citizens over 20 years old to buy up to 14 grams of cannabis per day.
The vote is happening alongside a national election to re-elect current Prime Minister Jacinda Adern or her rival Judith Collins. Usually, such a dramatic vote such as this would be a hot-topic in the election, but like many other things, the campaign has been dominated by topics revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Uraguay and Canada are the only two countries in the world that have fully legalized smoking marijuana at a national level.
Eleven US States have fully legalized cannabis, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has also said he will decriminalize it if he is elected president next month.
If New Zealand votes to legalize cannabis, it could impact Australia as well, as some progressive politicians want to follow their neighboring country’s lead.
So, will the vote pass? It’s looking unlikely, but some people are optimistic about it. Over the past several months, support has dropped. Of those polled in September, only 35% voted to legalize marijuana. That’s down from 40% in June and 43% in November of last year.
But according to a poll last week by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation, 49% of those polled supported the change while 45% opposed it.
The former prime minister of NZ, Helen Clark said in July, “It’s just a no-brainer to stop wasting our taxpayers’ money with police helicopters hovering over the Kiwi bush, hounding ordinary citizens who are having a joint of cannabis rather than a glass of wine.”